Injuries dominate the headlines as three players fall foul to serious knee injuries. Newcastle will be without goalkeeper Tim Krul until 2016/17 while Jurgen Klopp was still unpacking his bags when Liverpool confirmed Joe Gomez would miss up-to 9 months. Danny Ings became the sixth player to rupture his ACL this season – third within a week - to help ensure the past 7-days are forever entwined within Premier League injury folklore.
Newcastle should receive in excess of £1m compensation for their troubles but that will be scant consolation should the Geordies fail to maintain their PL status. The club currently find themselves not sitting so pretty at the foot of the table and the loss of Krul could cost United “18 or 20 points,” according to Steve McClaren.
With key match-ups both domestically and across Europe, this next week could shape the season for a number of teams and their coaches.
The managerial pressure pot will be boiling at Stamford Bridge on Saturday - Mourinho and Sherwood need a quick change of fortunes. Failing to do so could result in one, or both joining Brendan Rodgers at beIN sporting towers.
Tottenham – vs – Liverpool
Nabil Bentaleb, Ryan Mason and Heung-Min Son remain sidelined due to respective ankle, knee and foot injuries. The South Korean could miss up-to three weeks but the others have a chance for the Europa tie in Anderlecht. Alex Pritchard is also out after undergoing ankle surgery. Danny Rose recovers from a hand injury but the left-back berth is likely to be filled by Ben Davies. There’ll be at least one change for Pochettino as Eric Dier is suspended, his absence could mean a first start since August for Mousa Dembele. Christian Eriksen has been in excellent form since his return from injury and the 23-year-old looks to be the pick of the Tottenham bunch.
Nobody said it was going to be easy for Jurgen Klopp as Joe Gomez and Danny Ings are ruled out for the remainder of the campaign while Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke are still a week away. A tricky trip to White Hart Lane is beginning to look a lot more difficult. On a more positive note, Phillippe Coutinho and Dejan Lovren have both been involved in training and should be included. Jordan Henderson remains a long-term absentee.
Chelsea – vs – Aston Villa
Mourinho has "four solutions at right-back," after Ivanovic [hamstring] was injured playing for Serbia. “Cesar Azpilicueta, Kurt Zouma, Ramires and Aina.” Baba Rahman could earn his first start at left-back. Mourinho hints that Loftus-Cheek is ready to step-up "Ruben has been working with us every day since January and has evolved physically, tactically, mentally. We can start him." Potentially that would see Matic drop-out but given the form of Ramires I expect the Brazilian to play in the holding role. Diego Costa is back having missed three games through suspension. With no international distractions this time around, the Spanish striker should be focussed on adding to his paltry PL goals tally. Gary Cahill is fine after Roy Hodgson decided to rest the defender for the trip to Lithuania due to a niggling back complaint.
Ciaran Clark and Gabby Agbonlahor have been ruled out of the trip to Stamford Bridge as the pair struggle to overcome respective thigh and calf injuries. Jores Okore will not be risked either despite making his return – following knee surgery – for the under-21s. Adama Traore looks to be over his recent ankle problem while Carles Sanchez will be checked following his late return. Tim Sherwood hinted that Jack Grealish could be in line for a recall. The international break allowed the midfielder "to get back up-to full fitness." Villa have taken just 1-pt from their last seven PL games and the pressure is beginning to mount amid rumours that Brendan Rodgers could make a swift return to management.
Manchester City – vs – AFC Bournemouth
A bad international week for City as left-back Kolarov picks up "a hamstring injury" and playmaker David Silva was kicked for his troubles in Spain. "I hope both of them can be back in 15 days," revealed Pellegrini. Sergio Aguero will also miss the upcoming derby after limping off for Argentina “I don’t think he will be back before one month." Gael Clichy remains out while Fabian Delph "maybe one more week." However, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri have recovered from muscular injuries. Bony looks set to lead the line “I always trust Wilfried – he’s a very good player. He’s had very bad luck here. He arrived here in January, he went to the African Cup and then he had problems with his knee."
A mixed injury update from Eddie Howe. Harry Arter played 57 minutes for the development side on Monday night [against Colchester] – his first outing since June. The midfielder is closing in on his return but is “still at least a week away.” However, bad news for Tommy Elphick who had surgery on an ankle injury. The captain won’t be involved again until December handing Sylvain Distin his chance of an extended run within the first team. Injuries prevented Christian Atsu and Tokelo Rantie from playing during the break but neither has featured for the Cherries’ this term.
Southampton – vs – Leicester City
Jordy Clasie will be added to the Saints squad after playing for an hour in a behind-closed-doors friendly win over Ajax last Thursday. The Dutch midfielder isn’t expected to start though “he is not ready for 90 minutes." Shane Long could miss up-to a month after picking up an ankle injury while on international duty although the prognosis is a lot better than originally thought. The 28-year-old was stretchered off in Poland – but further tests revealed there was no break or ligament damage. James Ward-Prowse is hoping his performance during the second half at Chelsea is enough to earn a recall.
Riyad Mahrez and Jeffery Schlupp "will be assessed in training" on Friday after their late return from international duty "they must recover," said Ranieri. Nathan Dyer is back in contention "He's in good condition. I'm thinking about him." The Swansea loanee hasn’t featured since grabbing the winner at Villa back in game week five.
Everton – vs – Manchester United
Roberto Martinez will assess Bryan Oviedo, Tim Howard and Funes Mori after the trio arrived back late. However, only the goalkeeper is expected to start as John Stones is passed fit. "From a medical point of view I don’t think there's a concern.” Seamus Coleman came through 90 minutes unscathed for the Republic of Ireland in Poland and the defender will replace Tyias Browning. Leighton Baines "has stepped up his recovery," and the full-back along with Tony Hibbert, Tom Cleverley and Mo Besic should return within the next 2-3 weeks. Kevin Mirallas has completed his domestic ban.
Wayne Rooney [ankle] and Michael Carrick [groin] have been passed fit for the trip to Goodison Park despite missing out for England, but an abdominal injury will keep Paddy McNair sidelined. The Irish international has just spent three nights in a Finnish hospital. Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo will be considered but neither are Louis van Gaal fit and won’t be ready to play 90 minutes. Ashley Young is out after picking up a calf injury against Arsenal. Phil Jones could deputise “He has already played for me two times. When I want to select him I can."
West Brom – vs – Sunderland
Jonny Evans, James Morrison and Saido Berahino are all rated as 50/50 for the visit of Sunderland. Evans and Morrison have been struggling since the defeat at Selhurst Park in GW8 while Berahino picked up a knock in training. Salomon Rondon, Sessegnon and Christian Gamboa will be assessed on Friday. James Chester is on standby should Evans or Jonas Olsson fail to recover sufficiently. Craig Gardner and Callum McManaman provide options in midfield. Darren Fletcher has shrugged off a minor knock.
Big Sam makes his return to top-flight management and goals feature high on his agenda; eighteen [conceded] from Sunderland’s opening eight matches tells its own story. Expect a more resolute unit over the coming weeks and months as Allardyce brings his own particular brand of PL survival football to Wearside. The Black Cats will make at least two changes to the side which drew with West Ham. Seb Coates has accumulated five cautions which should earn Younes Kaboul a recall following his recent knee injury. “He’s been training okay for the past few days,” while Jermaine Lens sits out following his dismissal. Jack Rodwell is in line for his first start since August. Ola Toivonen picked up a muscular problem in Sweden “He said he felt his groin after the game on Monday night. We’re having a look at him and seeing what he’s like,” said Allardyce. Should he miss out, then Seb Larsson is best placed to fill the void. Yann M’Vila [hamstring] is okay and Adam Matthews – ankle ligaments - could come into contention having played in a friendly game last week.
Crystal Palace – vs – West Ham United
Damien Delaney, Mile Jedinak, Jordon Mutch and Chung-Yong Lee are all available for Palace but Joel Ward and Connor Wickham are lacking fitness. The pair are training but won't be considered. Alan Pardew confirms there are no fresh injury concerns following the international break "We've been lucky!" Pape Souare has recovered from the thigh injury which stopped him from joining his Senegal teammates last week. Wayne Hennessey is expected to continue in goal as Julian Speroni plays his way back with the under-21s. Yohan Cabaye has been excellent. The French international has scored three times already while carving out ten goal scoring opportunities along the way. Palace will have their work cut-out in this one against a side unbeaten on the road.
“It's good to have them back," confirmed Bilic when discussing the availability of Angelo Ogbonna, Andy Carroll and Enner Valencia although the latter still needs "a couple of weeks" to get back to full fitness. Alex Song should return within a fortnight but Aaron Cresswell will be assessed "he has a minor injury,” and Winston Reid [groin] is also a doubt. Joey O'Brien is training again, but after three months out he is not expected to be included. Victor Moses stayed in London over the break to work on his fitness. The winger has been in excellent form since his arrival from Chelsea but has only completed more than 60 minutes once. Morgan Amalfitano was released by the club having been frozen out of the first team following a dispute with Bilic.
Watford – vs – Arsenal
Quique Flores is expecting Valon Behrami to return after the defender picked up a calf injury while on international duty. The midfielder is available again having completed a 3-game domestic ban. Allan Nyom has been passed fit after receiving injections to remedy a knee complaint while Ikechi Anya – calf - should start having missed out for Scotland. Jose Manuel Jurado tweaked his hamstring in training and will be out slightly longer than originally thought - the Spanish midfielder is not due back for another few weeks. Odion Ighalo has netted 21-goals in twenty-six league games during 2015; more than any other player in the top four divisions.
Laurent Koscielny "faces a late fitness test," but the French defender was seen in training with the main group on Friday suggesting he is in with a good shout. Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta "could come back, we need to see how they are," said Wenger. Jack Wilshere "is at least a month away," and Danny Welbeck won’t be back until the beginning of January at the "earliest." Wenger is "unhappy" that Alexis Sanchez played 180 minutes for Chile, but the winger came through those games unscathed despite concerns over a niggling groin problem.
Newcastle United – vs – Norwich City
Newcastle are hopeful that up-to four players could return to the ranks on Sunday. Daryl Janmaat, Jack Colback, Massadio Haidara and Paul Dummett "have all trained and are in contention." Rob Elliott looks to have been given the nod with Tim Krul out for the season “Tim’s injury is a massive blow. We've had a few days to get over it. It's time for Rob to step into his boots." Rolando Aarons will be another 7 days but Gabby Obertan “is still a fortnight away.” This weekend is likely to come too soon for Kevin Mbabu “we’ll assess that as we’re going along,” said assistant manager Paul Simpson.
No fresh injury concerns for Norwich. "The international boys came back fine," revealed Alex Neil. Mulumbu has been given the green light to step up his rehab [fractured metatarsal] "We need to get Youssouf up-to speed in terms of games. He's back in full training now." The former Baggy should return within the next 7-14 days. Lewis Grabban is expected to be available but Gary Hooper – ankle ligaments - will have a late test.
Swansea City – vs – Stoke City
Garry Monk confirms a clean bill of health. Andre Ayew – who missed out for Ghana because of a minor knee problem – has been passed fit. Jefferson Montero and Sung-Yueng Ki arrive back late but the additional days rest will help. After a fine start to the campaign Swansea have not won since beating Man United back in August. The Jacks will be keen to secure 3-pts against a side who invariably struggle away from the Britannia.
Ryan Shawcross stepped up his rehab this week. "He played in a behind-closed-doors match. It was his first 90 minutes since the [back] operation but he still needs time. We have to be wary with him. Hopefully he'll be ready to go in a couple of weeks," announced Mark Hughes. Leading goal scorer Mame Diouf is currently on compassionate leave – following the sudden death of his mother - and is ruled out of the match. "The likelihood is that he'll come back early next week." Shay Given is still having treatment on the knee injury he picked up while representing Ireland but Marc Wilson and Xherdan Shaqiri are both available.